A coastal city surrounded by deserted beaches and endless hilltop views
Tuy Hoa is the capital of beautiful Phu Yen province. Much like Binh Dinh province to the south, Phu Yen lives in the shadow of Khanh Hoa province and the jewel in its tourism crown, Nha Trang. While this isn’t great news for the provincial officials who have grand plans to develop tourism in Phu Yen, it does mean that tourists looking for their very own slice of pristine sand have found the perfect overlooked corner of Vietnam.
Strike north or south of the city and beach after beach is waiting to be discovered, while those who head inland will find rolling, forested hills and a wide variety of ethnic minority cultures. All this makes Phu Yen province a richly rewarding destination for those seeking something off the beaten path.
Things to do
Around 30km south of Tuy Hoa city lies picturesque Vung Ro Bay, home to hundreds of floating homes making it a great place for atmospheric photo opportunities. A trip here can be combined with a visit to Bai Mon beach for a great day trip from Tuy Hoa city.
In an area known mainly for its Cham architecture, the imposing Mang Lang church provides an interesting contrast. It's a 19th-century Gothic style building, erected in 1892 at the direction of Joseph de La Cassagne. Around 30km from Tuy Hoa city, the church is surrounded by lush gardens with tall palm trees, while the ornate interior provides welcome respite on hot summer days.
The highest peak in the area at over 700m tall, Da Bia Mountain is crowned by a bare limestone outcrop which rises out of the heavily jungled hillside. Its highly distinctive shape has earned it a mention in countless Vietnamese poems and songs as well as an ancient legend. From the top, visitors are treated to expansive views across Rung Vo Bay and the beaches of Bai Bang and Bai Goc.
Bai Mon beach is bookended by the capes of Mui Nay and Mui Dien striking out into the sea. This area of outstanding natural beauty was known as Cape Varella by the French, who erected a lighthouse in 1895. Now fully restored and operational, the lighthouse is a local landmark. Its crystal clear blue waters and towering headlands make Bai Mon a great off-track day trip from Tuy Hoa city.
The ancient Cham empire that once thrived here may have long faded, but remnants of its former glory still dot the landscape in the form of distinctive Cham towers. This fine example, restored in 1960, stands 20m tall on a hilltop with commanding views all around. At night it's tastefully lit up and is something of a symbol for the city. Wander up in the early morning or, even better, late afternoon to enjoy the sunset vistas.
Distance to city centre 8km
Taxi Meter taxis, available outside arrivals, should take around 15 minutes and cost about VND 70,000.Back to top
When to go
From February to June the weather is very pleasant, with warm temperatures and lower humidity. In the height of summer, during July and August, the temperatures can soar. From September to December, keep an eye on the forecast as storms can roll in off the ocean during this time.
The annual Cau Ngu, or fish praying festival, is held in April. This major event is full of colourful costumes and interesting rituals and it is now aligned with the province’s new seafood festival, making it a good time to visit.
Like the rest of Vietnam, the major festival of the year is the Lunar New Year, called Tet. During this time, many of the restaurants and even some of the hotels will be closed for business. Tet falls in the first three months of the year, depending on the lunar calendar.Back to top
Most people who stay in Tuy Hoa city stay by the city’s main beach, so walking to the sand and the nearby restaurants is the easiest way to get around. To go further afield, take one of the plentiful taxis or xe om (motorbike taxis), or for more freedom, hire a motorbike. Be aware that while taxis are licensed, xe om are not and you will also have to negotiate a fare before you get on.Back to top